MANILA -- Relatives of 14 slain journalists in Maguindanao filed on Wednesday a complaint before an international human rights body against the government for failing to prevent the November 23 massacre.
Accompanied by lawyers Harry Roque and Pete Prinsipe of Center for International Law, the widows filed the 23-page complaint before the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, an international human rights body based in Jakarta and composed of advocates from Asean member-countries.
“The acts committed in the slaughter of civilians by State agents belong to this class of gross human rights violations for which the State must answer,” an excerpt from the complaint read.
The complaint, which was sent to the rights body via e-mail and registered mail, sought the first international reprieve to ensure that perpetrators of the brutal killings are brought to justice.
Roque referred to the January 28 testimony of Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu wherein then Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and Land and Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) chairman Prospero Pichay warned Mangudadatu of challenging Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. for the gubernatorial post due to the "violent nature" of the Ampatuans.
The clan was accused of masterminding and directly participating in the worst political violence in Philippine history.
Roque believed that the global attention given to the case is enough to pressure the government to act swiftly on the multiple murder trial.
Lawyer Rommel Bagares, executive director of CIL, mulls the filing of appropriate charges once the complaint will be acted on the group's favor.
“Our next move is that we will say the government is negligent. Subsequently we’ll file the charges," Bagares told reporters in an interview at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, where the multiple murder trial of Ampatuan Jr. was held.
Asean, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, groups together Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)